O Game Review The Chant brings the game's specifications and shouldn't resonate in players' memories for long, due to dated visuals and combat that isn't as rich as expected. At the end of 2022, which has recently offered us A Plague Tale Requiem, Scorn, Bayonetta 3, as well as the PC versions of Spider-Man and Uncharted, we need a little more under the hood, both in substance and form, to succeed in standing out. 

Visually, The Chant oscillates between a modern technique and sadly dated elements that unbalance the whole. A flaw we also find in the gameplay, which is also shaky, with grotesque situations where weak attacks have more impact than powerful blows. 

Overall, the attack system lacks dynamism and subtlety. Players looking for exciting gameplay or a graphical slap in the face can therefore pass on their way and quietly go and look elsewhere. Those, more conciliatory, who turn a blind eye to the game's flaws will still benefit from a rather pleasant setting and universe. 

Game Review The Chant
Image: Reproduction

Game Review The Chant

The Canadian studio Brass Token, which is still unknown to anyone, is home to "industry veterans", according to the well-known expression. Among them are developers who have worked on Bully and Sleeping Dogs in the past. That's what's so confidence-boosting, but it's offset by the studio's modest size. 

Work on The Chant actually began in 2017 with a small group of four developers and ends today with a team of just nineteen people. And we'll see that this lack of resources unfortunately seems a bit much.

It all begins in 1972 on Glory Island, when a sect is about to perform a mysterious ritual. A young girl flees at the last moment, thus causing the guru's wrath and the start of a short chase, serving mainly to introduce the player to the basic commands. Because this introduction is really just a flashback, the rest of the adventure takes place today. 

The story

The heroine we play is called Jess and she joins her friend Kim on Glory Island to take part in a spiritual retreat. Naturally, after a few walks in the forest and other yoga poses, things take a turn for the worse very quickly. It has to be said that each of the participants has their own traumas (in Jess's case, the drowning of her sister during childhood) and that Tyler, the leader of the group is also more of a guru than a friendly summer camp director. 

The scenario then unfolds in a score made up of parallel dimensions, frightening creatures, cosmic energy and supernatural crystals. If all this naturally evokes a lot of horror movies, and some games of the same genre (the recent The Quarry for example), the atmosphere is more particularly reminiscent of Lost. 

By the supernatural island, by the presence of communities seeking to settle there and by the continuous references to a past yet to be rediscovered. Jess regularly comes across film reels from the 1970s, with briefings and propaganda from the Prismic Science organization clearly inspired by those of Project Dharma from the famous television series. 

This aspect is also one of the main qualities of the game, which offers us a relatively interesting setting and universe. Nothing revolutionary, but the forces of darkness make good use of the traumas of the various protagonists, while the cult atmosphere works well and correctly justifies the alternation between realism and the supernatural.

Mysticism

The game also revolves entirely around mysticism. Thus, the three main characteristics to manage are mental, health and spirituality, whose meters are recharged respectively by lavender, ginger and mushrooms. This zen and new age theme is even found in the weapons to be crafted. It is thus possible to strike blows with a sage stick, a glowing whip and a witch's staff, while the consumables to be thrown at enemies or placed on the ground as traps are essential oil, salt and oil. 

A wheel of prisms also allows you to choose between six special powers, unlocked one after the other throughout the adventure. It is then possible to slow down enemies, push them back, make thorns come out of the ground, summon tortured creatures, send hellish insects at a target and even turn invisible for a few moments. A system of upgrades is added to the mix, but all this is not enough to create a perfectly convincing combat system. 

Light attacks seem much more effective than powerful ones, dodging clearly lacks dynamism and speed and, in the end, the various subtleties prove to be of little use. Why bother setting traps or figuring out which type of attack hurts which monster the most, when fiddling with the light attack of any weapon is enough most of the time? Obviously we're talking about normal mode here, not easy mode.

See also: The Last of Us game review; see story and gameplay